Michigan Senate approves anti-bullying bill

Nov 2, 2011

Update 5:15 p.m.

All school districts in Michigan may soon be required to adopt anti-bullying policies to help protect students from ridicule, humiliation and physical threats.

An anti-bullying bill approved by the state Senate would not, however, protect students from bullying done by teachers, school employees or parents.

The measure also does not protect students from cyber-bullying on home computers, nor does it list the traits or characteristics that are protected from bullying— such as gender, race or sexual orientation.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said she is offended the bill is named after Matt Epling, a student from East Lansing who committed suicide after he was bullied.

"The saddest and sickest irony of this whole thing is that it’s called ‘Matt’s Safe School Law.’ And after the way that you’ve gutted it, it wouldn’t have done a damn thing to save Matt,” said Whitmer.

Republican supporters of the proposal said it makes sure all students are protected and all districts have anti-bullying rules.

Republican state Senator Howard Walker said singling out traits could leave some students vulnerable:

“Our laws protect all the people from murder. Our laws protect all the people from stealing. Our laws protect all the people from assault. As this bill protects all students from bullying.”

State officials say 75 percent of schools in Michigan already have anti-bullying policies.

1:33 p.m.

After a morning full of heated debate, the state Senate has approved an anti-bullying bill that would require all school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies.

The measure was approved along party lines.

Democrats were upset that the bill did not list characteristics and traits of kids—such as height, gender and sexual orientation—that would be protected from bullying under the law.